WASHINGTON— U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, along with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, and the Honourable Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety today released the first ever joint United States-Canada Border Infrastructure Investment Plan (BIIP). The development and release of this initiative fulfills a commitment made under the 2011 United States-Canada Beyond the Border Action Plan.
“This first, joint U.S.-Canada binational plan shows that our collaborative approach to border planning, which includes feedback from our local partners, will serve both of our countries well and ensures that we are working together on our common interests,” said Secretary LaHood.
“An integrated, bilateral approach to border investment is critical to both the U.S. and Canadian economies,” said DHS Secretary Napolitano. “The BIIP offers enhanced security along our shared U.S.-Canadian border, while reducing wait times at major border crossings—increasing the flow of traffic across the border while ensuring safe and secure trade and travel.”
“Modern border crossings are essential to trade, which is why the Border Infrastructure Investment Plan and the collaborative relationship with our American neighbors are so important,” said Minister Lebel. “Our government is investing in border crossings, ports and gateways to reduce wait times, increase trade and create jobs.”
The BIIP is an interagency and binational planning mechanism developed to establish a mutual understanding of recent, ongoing, and potential border infrastructure investments. It outlines the approach that the United States and Canada will take to coordinate plans for physical infrastructure upgrades at small and remote ports of entry. This initiative will be updated and disseminated annually.
“Our government, in collaboration with the United States, is committed to enhancing our security and economic prosperity through significant investments at key crossings,” said Minister Toews. “These investments will reduce border delays, speed up trade across our shared border and will allow the Canada Border Services Agency to focus on facilitating the flow of low risk people and goods while keeping the border open to legitimate trade and travel.”
The BIIP, along with other initiatives under Beyond the Border: A Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness, is designed to benefit the integrated economies of the United States and Canada, which depend on the fluid movement of commercial and non-commercial traffic across our border. Its release follows recent announcements by the Government of Canada of significant investments at four initial priority land ports of entry identified by Canada in the Beyond the Border Action Plan: Lacolle, Quebec; Lansdowne, Ontario (Thousand Islands Bridge); Emerson, Manitoba; and North Portal, Saskatchewan. Modernization of major border crossings will reduce wait times, increase reliability of just-in-time shipments, and decrease fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. and Canada enjoy the world’s largest trading partnership – with two-way merchandise trade totaling $570 billion in 2012.
In addition, the Government of Canada announced, in July 2012, the installation of technology to measure and report border wait times at the Peace and Queenston-Lewiston Bridges. The $1.7 million project was completed in partnership with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Federal Highway Administration and the Canada Border Services Agencies.